On August 23, 2023, India etched its name in history by becoming the first country to land its spacecraft Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander on the Moon’s south pole. India is the fourth country to accomplish the feat.
A few hours after the historic landing, the 26-kg six-wheeled ‘Pragyan’ rover rolled out from the lander’s belly. According to the latest updates from the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO, the rover has traversed a distance of about eight metres on the lunar surface, and its payloads have been turned on.
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Here is what we know about Chandrayaan-3 journey on Moon so far:
1. A few hours after the soft landing on the Moon on August 23, the ISRO shared first the image captured by Vikram’s camera “It shows a portion of Chandrayaan-3’s landing site. Seen also is a leg and its accompanying shadow. Chandrayaan-3 chose a relatively flat region on the lunar surface,” it said on X (formally Twitter).
2. The ISRO also said a communication link was established between the lander and the space agency’s Mission Operations Complex (MOX) in Bengaluru. The MOX is located at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC). The ISRO also released images from the Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera taken during the descent to the Moon’s surface.
3. On August 24 morning, the ISRO said “India took a walk on the moon”, as Chandrayaan-3’s robotic rover rolled out of the lander and commenced mobility operations with all activities on schedule and all systems normal.
4. The ISRO also said all the Lander Module(LM) payloads have been turned on. “All activities are on schedule. All systems are normal. Lander Module payloads ILSA, RAMBHA and ChaSTE are turned ON today. Rover mobility operations have commenced. SHAPE payload on the Propulsion Module was turned ON on Sunday,” it said in a post on X while giving an update in the same evening.
5. On August 25, a video of the Pragyan rover rolling out of the Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander and walking on the lunar surface was released by the ISRO.
6. The space agency released another video of how a two-segment ramp facilitated the roll-down of the Pragyan. It said a solar panel enabled the rover to generate power. The video also showed how the rapid deployment of the ramp and solar panel took place, prior to the rolldown of the rover.
7. In the same evening, the ISRO updated that the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s Pragyan rover has traversed a distance of about eight metres on the lunar surface, and its payloads have been turned on. All payloads on the propulsion module, lander module, and rover are performing nominally, the Bengaluru-headquartered national space agency said.
8. On August 26, the ISRO said two of the three Chandrayaan-3 mission objectives have been achieved while the third — in-situ scientific experiments — is underway. The national space agency also said all the payloads of Chandrayaan-3 mission are performing normally.
9. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to name the spot where Vikram lander made the soft landing as “Shiv Shakti Point” and the site where the Chandrayaan-2 lander crash-landed on the Moon’s surface in 2019 would be known as “Tiranga Point”.
10. Also, August 23, the day the Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down on the lunar surface, would be celebrated as ‘National Space Day’, Modi said.
‘We are looking excitedly for next 13-14 days’: ISRO chief
ISRO chief S Somanath on Saturday said most of the scientific mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are going to be met now and the team at ISRO is looking excitedly for the next 13-14 days.
“Most of the scientific mission objectives are going to be met now. Lander and Rover all of them are switched on. I understand that all the scientific data is looking very good. But we will continue to measure a lot of data from the Moon in the coming 14 days. And we hope that we will make a really good breakthrough in science while doing so. So we are looking excitedly for the next 13-14 days,” Somanath said.
Somnath reached the Kerala capital for the first time after the historic success of the moon mission.
Asked about Aditya-L1, the first space-based Indian observatory to study the sun, Somnath said the satellite was ready and reached Sriharikota.
The launch is expected in the first week of September and the final date would be announced in two days, he said.
(With inputs from agencies)